What Are Our Most Popular Solar Panel Brands?
The three main panel brands we sell the most include Canadian Solar, SolarWorld, and SunPower. In fact, these three make up the vast majority of our installations. They move up in price and efficiency from Canadian Solar, which is our standard panel, to SolarWorld which is slightly more efficient and is considered a mid-tier model, all the way to SunPower, which is the Rolls Royce of solar panels.
So how would we characterize the main panels in our repertoire? We can look at the different brands in terms of panel efficiency, warranty, market size, and reputation.
Canadian Solar - Our most popular brand of panel, this is considered our value brand due to competitive price. They offer the fastest ROI at the lowest monthly payment. Canadian Solar modules have an efficiency of 16.2% - 16.8%, right in line with standard panels. They have a great combination of price and module efficiency. They offer a 10-year product warranty and a 25-year performance warranty. These panels are tough and sturdy.
Canadian solar is the second biggest solar manufacturer in the world by volume. They manufactured and shipped 4GW worth of solar worldwide in 2015. To give an idea how much solar this is, just know that Ohio is said to have a installed around 130 MW cumulative. So Canadian Solar manufactured in 2015 nearly 31 times more solar than Ohio has installed in total. That's a lot of panels.
SolarWorld - Our second most popular brand of panel, SolarWorld, produces more American-made panels than any other manufacturer. They are a little more costly than Canadian Solar due to slightly higher efficiency. Solidly constructed. SolarWorld modules have an efficiency that ranges from 16.4% - 17.3%. The panels perform at or above their nominal power rating even in the harshest of conditions. SolarWorld offers a 10-year product warranty and a 25-year performance warranty.
SolarWorld is one of only two companies to respond to the "Solar Scorecard" survey conducted by the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) every year since 2010. The survey takes a look at sustainability practices of solar manufacturers across twelve categories and tallies the score to come up with a ranking. SolarWorld has consistently shown itself to be a responsible corporate citizen. In fact, "Solarworld has achieved the highest overall score across all five Solar Scorecards to date, SVTC says." The company ranked 2nd out of 40 respondents to the SVTC annual report in 2015.
Sunpower - SunPower is our high-end panel. Sunpower solar panels are the best solar panels on the market. They pack more cells into a tighter area and are perfect for those who have a smaller roof space. They are generally regarded as being the most efficient panel maker on the market. SunPower's X-Series modules have an efficiency of 21.5%. Most panels are between 14-17% efficient, so SunPower can make a claim that they are 25-35% more efficient than standard panels. They are the most efficient and they are also the most expensive.
SunPower offers the most comprehensive warranty in solar. They offer both a 25-year limited product and power warranty. SunPower was the first solar manufacturer to offer this length of time. SunPower was also ranked 1st out of 40 respondents in the SVTC Solar Scorecard survey for sustainability and responsible corporate behavior. They are considered the premiere solar manufacturer and currently are the 9th biggest in the world.
The rest of what we sell is dependent on whether the customer specifically asks for it. We can accommodate nearly any customer request as we get good pricing options from all the major distributors in our supply chain. Two of the brands we normally receive requests on include:
LG - LG panels have a 10-year product limited warranty and a 25-year power performance warranty. Their panels are known for having high levels of efficiency in the 17-19% range. Customers often ask for LG specifically because of their reputation for high efficiency. They are mentioned in the same conversation with SunPower
Suniva - Customers interested in buying an American product sourced with materials from American production facilities generally request Suniva. According to their website, "Suniva is one of only a few U.S.-operated manufacturers that offer Buy America-compliant* modules, which contain more than 80% U.S. content."
Customers who choose a specific panel brand are generally solar evangelists who have a great deal of solar technical knowledge. We can usually accommodate all panel requests. In the future, we forecast a bigger market in Ohio for panels by Kyocera and First Solar. The previous list was not meant to be exhaustive, just a good review of what we currently sell. So no matter if you choose to go with the best solar panels, the most efficient solar panels, solar panels for sale, or simply cheap solar panels, solar panels for your home are a great deal.